Advancing gender equity and gender-responsive R&D
Despite representing half of the world’s population, women are a neglected population when it comes to drug development. Women are often excluded from clinical trials, resulting in a lack of data, especially data concerning pregnant or breastfeeding women. A commitment to gender means also looking at risks specific to men. For some diseases, men may be at higher risk due to occupational exposure or may not be diagnosed promptly when working hours prevent them from seeking medical care quickly. In many communities, transgender people and sexual minorities may avoid seeking medical care entirely, due to stigma and discrimination, resulting in late diagnosis and poor treatment outcomes.
DNDi’s commitment to implementing best practices in gender-responsive drug development and access to treatment programmes, supporting maternal health, and advancing women in science is a core focus of our 2021-2028 Strategic Plan.
Going forward, including gender as one of DNDi’s strategic imperatives means:
- Identifying gender-specific elements in our target product profiles, and publishing sex-disaggregated results of clinical trials
- Promoting the inclusion of women in clinical trials, including, where possible, women who could be or become pregnant, as well as breastfeeding women
- Developing pathways for more women to contribute as principal investigators and scientific leaders
- Applying a broad gender and intersectional lens to treatment access strategies, acknowledging the multiple social, political, and economic determinants of vulnerability to diseases and access to healthcare
In late 2021, DNDi created a cross-team Gender-Responsive R&D and Access Steering Group to advance this agenda and to take forward recommendations produced earlier in the year by DNDi’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group. Internally, DNDi has continued to work to ensure equal opportunities for women and men, including through initiatives to ensure equitable compensation and access to training and promotion, and to remove biases in recruitment practices. In 2021, when pandemic restrictions allowed, DNDi began to roll out workshops for staff on unconscious bias and will continue this work in 2022 in all offices.
Photo credit: Sydelle Willow Smith-EDCTP
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